High School Spirit Rules Changes Focused On Safety of Participants


Team dealers who sell into the cheer business will want to take notice of a number of rules changes instituted by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Spirit Rules Committee for the 2021-22 season. The rules primarily address the committee’s continued focus on risk minimization.

Among the rules changes that will impact cheer sales is one that now permits spirit participants to wear religious head coverings during performance without seeking state association approval beforehand. The rule states headwear must be made of non-abrasive and soft materials, fit securely and be attached in such a way that it is unlikely to come off while performing.

(The NFHS Spirit Rules Committee is the fourth NFHS sports rules committee to adopt or adjust a rule related to the wearing of religious head coverings so far in 2021.)

In another rules change, an exception was added  that allows a base and top person to share a pom during a dismount from a thigh stand, a shoulder sit or straddle, a shoulder stand or a prep. Previously, bases could not hold any objects or accessories while supporting a top person in these positions; only a hand-to-hand connection was acceptable.

“The NFHS Spirit Rules Committee continues its efforts to increase the health and safety of all cheer and dance participants,” says Dr. James Weaver, NFHS director of performing arts and sports and liaison to the NFHS Spirit Rules Committee. “This year’s rules changes allow for good safety practices and allow for education and practice in the sport of spirit.”

Although not as important to team dealers, another rules change aimed at reducing injury risk for the top person in a pyramid, Rule 3-3-3 no longer mandates that the top person make hand-to-hand or hand-to-arm contact with a bracer. Removing this contact requirement keeps the top person out of a potentially dangerous position caused by attempting an unnatural connection with the bracer.

A complete listing of the spirit rules changes will be available on the NFHS website at www.nfhs.org. Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page and select “Spirit.”

According to the most recent NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, competitive spirit ranks ninth in participants for girls with 161,358 in 7,214 schools.

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